I am always amazed and impressed by Auckland, that huge city near the north of the country, home to 1.6 million people and set to rise to 2 million by 2033 at the latest. It is the destination for most migrants to New Zealand when borders are open.
In my view, migrants coming here equate Auckland as New Zealand, many often having no concept of the rest of the country. Many Aucklanders may rarely, if ever, travel south of the Bombay Hills in their lifetimes.
In terms of work, family and lifestyle many have no interest in the rest of New Zealand. If they are recent migrants it is likely that all their family and friends reside in Auckland anyway.
I have lived, worked and studied in Auckland at various times in my life, the last few years before retirement my trips consisting of day or overnight trips for conferences and seminars, me never seeing anything of the place other than the airport and from the back of the cab taking me to wherever I am going.
Mostly the venues were close to the airport as my employer had property there used as a handy place for staff flying in from all over the country to meet.
Of course I have holidayed there and even spent a year there off and on at Auckland University, living in a body corporate apartment building off Symonds St and within walking distance of class.
I must say I have, in recent years, found Queen St to be somewhat soulless compared with earlier times, preferring the shops and restaurants in Newmarket or Takapuna.
Aucklanders I have met have a slightly different world view to me, a provincial drop-out. They seem slightly more sophisticated, worldly wise and more Australian than Kiwi in their lifestyles. They have little interest in what the rest of the country is getting up to unless it is something momentous like the Blues losing away from home or the Warriors winning.
Auckland's waterfront is simply world-class and it will be great to see the port with all its ugly cranes and containers shifted north or elsewhere if that is to happen. Auckland is now close to becoming a small world-class city and simply is the face of our country. There has been chat in recent times of Auckland becoming a city state.
Unlikely due to the necessary duplication of government systems needed, easier just to blame and hector centralised government in Wellington.
Auckland is the base for the headquarters over 100 multinational companies operating in the Asia Pacific region. It generates 37 per cent of the country's GDP. Over 39 per cent of Aucklanders were born overseas.
On average Aucklanders tend to be better-educated than other New Zealanders, earn more money and have access to better healthcare.
Auckland and Aucklanders tend to get a bad rap from other New Zealanders, not that this probably worries them that much. They are too busy working, enjoying their beautiful beaches and struggling with mortgages that can be eye-watering.
Many of the rest of us seem to have a quiet, seething envy when Auckland is constantly in the news, new infrastructure spending is allocated to yet another railway or motorway project.
World-class events like the America's Cup being hosted in the Queen City, it can be enough to make one wonder "what about the rest of us". The figures above explain why. Nearly one-third of all the people in the country live between the Bombay Hills and Albany, 2 per cent of New Zealand's land area.
Auckland is simply the powerhouse of the country. New Zealand could not prosper without Auckland.
Saying all this I prefer the provincial lifestyle, I would not live it otherwise. Auckland is a 45-minute flight away for me and, having family and friends there is enough of a reason nowadays to visit and wonder at the place and what is going on.
So when we folk who are not Aucklanders get our noses a bit out of joint about the place, remember the place generates nearly 40 per cent of the country's wealth yearly.
That is serious money, much of which probably goes back into the Auckland economy as it is simply needed due to inherited transport and infrastructure issues the city has to grapple with along with an increasing population, 45,000 new Aucklanders in 2016 alone, more than the population of my provincial city at that time.
The rest of New Zealand should celebrate what Auckland is and what it means to us as a country.
It is only a flight or train trip away from most regions, an opportunity in these days of closed borders to get away and see the wonders of a big city without having to leave the country. Take in a show, watch international sport, eat out well. Enjoy.